Sunday, 4 December 2016

Never ever settle

The other night I was out at the British Fantasy Society Christmas Social (and a great night it was too). I got chatting with a number of top folks and we got on to the subject of writing as is inevitable at these things.

I made the following statement (or words to that effect):"I cannot see myself making enough from my writing for it to be anything other than a hobby."

And in one fell swoop I had settled. It was as easy as that. I had dismissed my dream of being a professional writer as being too hard, the likelihood of me achieving it too astronomically small when you call the maths in to play. This right at the moment when folks are saying some amazing things about the stuff I am putting out there.

So this is a message for current me and future me (and anyone else who might be in a similar position). NEVER EVER SETTLE.

I may not make more than my current salary each year through my writing. But then again I might and then some.

One thing is for certain - the minute you accept that you cannot achieve something then you've created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Let's review that

Getting your work noticed in this age of the internet is tough. There's lots of people shouting to be heard so how do you get your work noticed by reviewers and up on their sites. I don't have a magic bullet but as an author who used to be a reviewer I can offer some words which I hope are useful.

First up, find out who the reviewers in your genre are. I write mainly horror so tend to go to places like Ginger Nuts of Horror, DLS Reviews, British Fantasy Society and so forth (there are loads out there so don't be offended if I haven't mentioned your favourite site - in fact, let me know of your favourite site as I love to discover great reviewers and hear what they are reading).

Next, have a read of what they review. Does your book fit their preferred genres? If your book is splatterpunk but the site tends towards quieter, more psychological tales then they might not be interested.

Read the site's review policy! This is really, really important which is why I've put this in bold. Most sites will have them. In fact, here are a few:

These sites get hundreds of requests every month (if not every day). Make the reviewer's life easier by giving them your book in their preferred format and providing the information they are after up front.

Okay, you've chosen the sites and read their review policies. Next up - sending that all important email to ask if they would be interested in reading your book. Before doing anything now, check you are happy with the book you are sending. Have all the typos been picked up? Has the cover art been sorted? Do you have a link for Amazon or wherever it is being sold from? Do you have a release date? Do you have a succinct blurb to pitch your book? Yes. Excellent! Have one last double check though as you only get one shot at the next piece. Let's crack on.

Sending the email!

The email to the reviewer should be short, polite and contain all the information they need which will be detailed in their review policy. Something along the lines of:
Dear (name - and do use their name, it's only polite)

I hope (reviewer website name) would consider reviewing my book (title) by (name) which is being released (date) by (publisher/being self-published).

(Book title) tells the tale of (insert that succinct blurb).

Please find attached (whatever format of book they prefer from their review policy - mobi, epub, etc). I have also attached a cover image for you (saves the reviewer trying to hunt one down) and a link to (insert link to where book can be purchased by those reading the review - by the way, NEVER ASK THE REVIEWER TO BUY YOUR BOOK TO REVIEW IT!!! EVER!).

Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy the book.

Author name

That's it. If you know the reviewer via social media or in person then personalise it a bit more but other than that you've got all the detail there the reviewer needs.

Right, so when do you follow up because your review has not gone up yet? Personally, I suggest never or, at the most, once a couple of months later. Keeping nagging the reviewer and you will get noticed for the wrong reasons with the likelihood of your book being reviewed diminishing with each subsequent email.

And if you get a review. Thank the reviewer (whether negative or positive). They've just provided you with free advertising. Advertising. For free. Pretty good, eh? And sharing their review of your book promotes their site which gets more people reading about your book and all the other books the reviewer has been promoting. That's kind of cool - lots of love of books spreading out all over the place like that. You could even share their reviews of other people's books too to keep spreading all that book related love.

So, the review itself. One thing not to do if the review is negative is get angry with the reviewer. They've given an opinion. That's all. Which is what you've asked them to do. Reviews will pretty much go one of five ways (there will be exceptions to these five - that's life!):
1) Loved it, oh my god, this was amazing
2) Really enjoyed this, go check it out
3) It was fine but had problems
4) Didn't enjoy this but there were some bits which were okay
5) Really disliked this (my experience is this is the rarest review to get as reviewers, in the main, are not there to trample over people's work and will tend to not review the book especially if it is a new author finding their feet).

If you get a review which falls into the first three categories then that's great. If you get one which falls into the latter two then read the review a few times and see if there's something there which is useful to improve your writing. Equally, if you find all other reviews are positive except that one then maybe it wasn't to that reviewer's taste this time; a bit like the way some people love coffee creams and others despise them.

After all that, get back to writing your next book, short story, whatever. And more power to you for doing so.

Final thing to take away is that most reviewers, unless writing for a national newspaper, are doing this without payment purely because they love reading books and sharing their love of books. They have personal lives which come with all the usual joys and hassles - they are not reading and reviewing books 24/7. Equally, remember that reviewers want to have books to read and if you send them something they enjoy you might have a fan for life.

All the above is just my thoughts on the whole review process as someone who has been on both sides of the fence as a reviewer and as an author. If you find something here you think rings true then please pinch and copy. If you think I've missed the mark somewhere along the lines then that's all good too. I certainly don't have all the answers and am still learning in this whole writing adventure but the above feels about right for me.

Love and hugs


Becoming David - finally he lives!

Exciting times for me. I have published my first novella and it is with the wonderful Hersham Horror as part of their Primal Range of novellas alongside Mark West, James Everington, Stephen Bacon and also Marie O'Regan who has her collection out with Hersham.

Becoming David is a dark tale about a cannibal and what happens when David comes into his life. You can read the blurb here:

Richard leads a simple, uncomplicated life in the suburbs of London where anonymity is a virtue. His life has a routine. His cleaner visits twice a week and he works out in his basement, where occasionally he kills people.

Everything is as Richard wants it until David enters his life. What happens next changes his whole existence and the lives of those around him. Is he able to trust anything to be true? And will he be able to escape David or will David take over his life completely?

The artwork for the cover is excellent and undertaken by the talented Neil Williams.

There are some great reviews up already and here are a selection of them:
Ginger Nuts of Horror - "Becoming David is a powerful novella, it is intelligent, thrilling story that carves its own distinct path in a  genre filled with far too many cliched psychos."

DLS Reviews - "What you get with ‘Becoming David’ is a quietly unnerving tale with a thought-provoking purpose.  It’s one which sucks you into its stark and meticulous world, only to then shove you down some strange passageways where nothing is quite as black and white as it first appeared."

This Is Horror - "He has all the twists and turns of a craftsman with the right tools to construct a great story. His sharp style and gift of building tension within his horror stories makes Sloman a writer worth keeping an eye on in the future."

If you fancy having a read then you can grab a copy either in e-book or dead tree format from Amazon here